What We Are Reading

Christina here with this month’s round-up of Wenchly book recommendations! The recent beautiful spring weather, and the fact that lockdown has been easing in many places, has meant that the Wenches have been able to go out and about a bit more, but we have still been doing quite a lot of reading. Below we have another eclectic selection for you – from fantasy to romcom to Shakespeare (well, sort of) and more – and we hope that you will join in as always with your own recommendations!

CharlaineHarrisAnne:  Two very different books have hit the spot for me this month. The first is An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris, the first in her "Gunny Rose" series. Set in an alternative "America" where a combination of the 'flu plague of the early 20th century, the assassination of the US president, the escape from Imperial Russia by the Tsar and all his court, fleeing The Red Army, and general "wild west" style lawlessness in some parts of the country have resulted in the break up of the former USA and the formation of "new" countries or territories.

Lizbeth Rose is a 19 year old "gunny" – a brilliant sharp-shooter whose job it is to guard people and shipments from outlaws, would-be-slavers and thieves, and there are plenty of them. Add in a paranormal thread, where some of the Russian refugees (now running a territory called the Holy Russian Empire – California to the Canadian border) can perform magic, and you have a cracking good yarn.

There's quite a lot of shooting and killing, but isn't the kind of graphic violence I shrink from. Only baddies are killed. And Gunny Rose is a very appealing character – loyal, principled, and she's never failed a client – yet. And of course there's a handsome Russian wizard on a secret mission who keeps getting in her way. The first book in the series is called An Easy Death, which is what people traditionally wish gunnies when they head off on a mission. I've since read the other two in the series and can't wait for #4.

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WWR — What we read in October

Anne here, hosting our monthly "what we're reading" post, and have we got some great recommendations for you, from contemporary magic realism, to English women's fiction/rom com, medieval historical romance, rock romance, crime fiction of various sorts, and fantasy romance. Read on — and then add your own recommendations in the comment stream.

Blackbirdcafe_

We begin with Pat: For fans of magical realism and Barbara Samuel—MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACK BIRD CAFÉ by Heather Webber is a lovely, heartwarming, “wrap up in a cozy blanket and dream pleasant dreams” story. There is enormous heartbreak and death, but the book is not just about learning to cope, but to overcome and become stronger through forgiveness and love.

For tragic reasons, Anna Kay has never lived in the town her mother called home, until her grandmother dies and leaves her a café. Anna has no intention of staying. She’s on her way to medical school. But the will requires that she stay and run the café for two months before she can sell it, and she desperately needs the funds. Over those months, she learns about the rare blackbirds inhabiting her backyard, the mulberries that bring magical dreams, and about the father she never knew. And while Anna is changing, the whole town is changing with her. Every character shines like a polished gem, and I wanted to root for all of them to have their happy endings. Definitely a feel good story for a dreary evening!

CountryEscapeChristina says: Jane Lovering writes the quirkiest rom coms I’ve ever read – and I mean that in the best possible way! – so when I noticed that she had a new book out, I downloaded it immediately. In The Country Escape, heroine Katie has moved herself and her teenage daughter to a ramshackle cottage in deepest Dorset following her recent divorce because it’s all she can afford. Her ex-husband was French, rich and selfish, so the change in circumstances is particularly noticeable. With jobs harder to come by than she’d thought (she is a French teacher), their prospects for the coming winter look bleak until a couple of chance encounters. One with a pony, who turns up in her orchard one morning (together with an abandoned gypsy caravan), and the other with a man called Gabriel. Jane Lovering’s heroes are always unusual and unique, and Gabriel is no exception. Despite being very handsome, he’s not your average alpha hero, and he has been scarred by things that happened when he was young. But although Katie tries to resist, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Quietly witty and resourceful, as well as self-deprecating, Katie is the kind of heroine you can’t help but root for, and she is hiding some secrets of her own.

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